Summary: Just the Facts. By Captain Sanborn, July 2

CCSO OpEd – I am certain that by now, most have heard about the budget woes that Coos County is experiencing. For the past few years, Coos County has been supplementing the budget with American Recovery Plan (ARP) funds in order to maintain current services provided by the county. I have been employed with the Coos County Sheriff’s Office for over a decade and during that time we have always presented a “per se” or “as is” budget. What this means is the Sheriff’s Office has not significantly grown, or changed in terms of staffing in over decade. In order to adapt to the times, it is imperative that any organization change and grow with the times. The Sheriff’s Office has grown in terms of our adaptability to do more with less. However, we are seeing an elevation of crime in the community. Consequently, as crime also inflates, it outpaces our ability to adequately handle these problems with the staffing levels we are funded for. The problem is that inflation is outpacing the county’s income. Coos County is required to submit a balanced budget to the State of Oregon every year. This budget year, the Coos County Board of Commissioners supplemented income out of a fund which is used to purchase forest land for the County Forest which also supplements the county’s budget, as well as ARP funds and some money which maintains a rolling average for the slow years when timber prices are low. Anyone who tracks our timber industry, which is vital to Coos County’s economy, knows that right now, timber prices are low. From what I have read, timber prices are expected to remain low for some period of time. That said, we cannot rely upon that income for the next few years. For this budget year, the Coos County Sheriff’s Office was forced to cut a part time evidence technician position and a deputy position, both of which are vacant. Both of which were needed to assist in our service to the public. Right now, every patrol shift has two deputies on duty to patrol the entirety of Coos County. We do have deputies which work contracted positions. For the most part, these positions are paid out of funds which are not from the general fund so they have a positive effect on the budget in that they do not have an impact on the general fund. However, these deputies are paid to perform specific functions and duties by the entities which fund their position. For example, Weyerhauser pays for a full-time deputy to patrol the Allegheny Tree Farm, and that is exactly what that Deputy does. This is not to say that the Weyerhauser Deputy does not help out from time to time, but that Deputy’s primary responsibility is to work that area. This function helps Patrol in that it is an area they do not necessarily have to worry about responding to. There have been a lot of ideas floating around about taking money from other county departments in order to fund the Sheriff’s Office. While I personally appreciate the support, it is unfortunately not a viable solution. Every department in the county performs a function for the county and the county cannot effectively function without them. Sadly, we are going down a dark road if something does not change. All we have to do is look at our neighbor Josephine County. In 2013/ 2014 the funding dropped out from beneath the county and they could not maintain operations. Coos County actually hired a couple of the deputies who were laid off from there. However, that county fell into chaos. The jail was operating at minimum capacity and there were no patrol deputies working at night, just one or two during the day. Oregon State Police responded to calls but only on an emergency basis and with the limited staffing that particular office had. There were horrible crimes committed against people, some of which were captured on 911 as they were occurring with no one coming to help. Only after enduring those dark times did that county pass an operating levy for the Sheriff’s Office and now have codified that into a special taxing district. Our neighbor to the south, Curry County had a levy fail and have cut their budget by over forty percent. We are still waiting to see what the impact of that will be, but most of the cuts were from the Sheriff’s Office. I encourage folks to take the time and look at what that looks like for Curry County. Here are the facts for this year. We are budgeted at the jail for 98 beds for the 2024/ 2025 fiscal year. We have two patrol deputies currently on shift every day for Coos County for this fiscal year. We are working at the bare minimum and there is no help in sight. Here are the facts for next year. There is no more money to plug the gaps in the budget and there will be massive layoffs and cuts in service unless something changes, we only barely avoided that eventuality this year. As for this year, we are still handling calls, we have to triage the calls which come in and prioritize them. We will be there as soon as we can and provide the very best service that we can with the resources provided to us. But facts are facts and we can’t hide from them regardless of how we feel about it. In the meantime, keep safe, stay healthy and trust that we are working on figuring something out to keep the services we have going.

The post Summary: Just the Facts. By Captain Sanborn, July 2 appeared first on Community Plus.


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